Mendoza-Alvarez v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 05-03-2013
  • Case #: 08-74386
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam; Circuit Judges Tallman and M.D. Smith; District Judge Rosenthal
  • Full Text Opinion

Insulin-dependent persons, including those who suffer from mental illness, do not qualify as a protected social group because the group does not contain sufficient particularity.

Francisco Javier Mendoza-Alvarez, a Mexican citizen, was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes after he entered the United States. His diabetes gravely affected his health, and he was also diagnosed with depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. An Immigration Judge (“IJ”) granted Mendoza-Alvarez’s “request for withholding of removal under 9 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(A).” Under this statute, a petitioner receives a withholding of removal if the petitioner shows that his “life…would be threatened in” the country of removal because of the petitioner’s “membership in a particular social group.” Mendoza-Alvarez argued that he was a member of a particular social group of “insulin-dependent persons with mental-health problems.” On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) sustained the IJ’s decision. Mendoza-Alvarez filed a petition for review. The Ninth Circuit noted that in order for Mendoza-Alvarez to be granted a withholding of removal, he “must show a clear probability that he will be subject to persecution because of his membership in a particular social group.” The panel cited Matter of S-E-G-, which defined a social group as being “particular if it ‘can accurately be described in a manner sufficiently distinct that the group would be recognized…as a discrete class of persons.’” The panel concluded that Mendoza-Alvarez’s proposed social group lacked particularity because it consisted of “large numbers of people with different conditions and in different circumstances.” Thus, the group’s population was too “large and disparate” to be considered a “particular, discrete social group.” Therefore, the panel held that the BIA had correctly concluded that Mendoza-Alvarez had failed to demonstrate that he belonged to a particular social group or that he would be persecuted for “his membership in a particular social group.” DENIED.

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